Most sick care technology companies, at some stage of their development, decide whether to hire an advisor, consultant or Chief Medical Officer (CMO), either part time or full time. However, given that the job description involves a combination of clinical and business domain expertise, there is a shortage of qualified applicants and a war for talent, much like there is for sick care data scientists.
The roles and responsibilities of hospital CMOs are different from biomedical and clinical company CMOs. However, the job descriptions of both are undergoing rapid change,
In my experience, when medical technology newco CEOs look for a “CMO”, they want a combination of someone who is a “cat herder” i.e. someone who is charged with managing a clinical network, or a “business builder” i.e. someone who can provide openings to customers and markets through their contacts or networks. Others just want a “hood ornament” so they put their picture on their website and bask in the glory of their brand equity and key opinion leader status to add credibility to the enterprise.
Here are some skills that physician advisors and consultants can potentially bring to the table:
In most instances, the company has already crafted its plan of attack, has validated it with a few customers and is moving along according to its business plan with a management team that is experienced, but at this stage of the game, needs capital to get to the next level. Unfortunately, when approaching private-equity or venture capitalists, the usual response is “too early and too much technical or regulatory risk.” The team scales back its expectations for raising capital, reducing it to about $500,000 to $1 million, and seeks investments from high-net-worth individuals such as doctors or angel investors. That’s where you come in. The team wants you to use your network to raise money from colleagues, friends or others who might be interested in the idea or who practice in the specialty.
In addition to money, they also want you to use your network to connect them to potential customers, strategic partners or other advisers who can help place the product, reduce barriers to use or lend a favorable ear to the product offering. Your job is to bypass the gatekeepers, connect the leadership team to the decisionmakers and put in a good word. You are also expected to use your brand equity to create buzz on the internet and inform and educate stakeholders.
Once you have earned your stripes, then—and usually only then—will early-stage companies be interested in your being on a scientific or business advisory board, or more certainly, the board of directors. They want to test whether you can deliver, whether you are someone who plays nice with others and whether you can help them meet their next critical success factor.
New product development requires an intimate understanding of the problems customers face when doing their jobs. Doctors are in a unique position to provide that intelligence and know where to go to identify those affected.
Monitoring the environment
One of your jobs is to be the eyes and ears of medicine and biotechnology and report threats and opportunities to the leadership team. Telling truth to authority is a required skill.
You were hired because you are connected. That means you have access to a big network of talented people looking for jobs and eager to work for companies that come recommended from trusted resources. Winning the war for talent is an insider’s game and you are in the right place to help win it.
Perhaps the most valuable but least rewarded contribution is the clinical and business judgement derived from years of experience. While difficult to measure, instincts and that gut feeling are invaluable if they contribute to preventing the wrong move or step.
Teachers educate. Coaches teach a skill. Mentors help with personal development. Advisors help with business strategy and execution. Sometime you have to act like all of them depending on the situation.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Companies grow organically or through mergers and acquisitions. One role an advisor can play is to connect the management team with potential strategic partners or M/A targets and help with the due diligence process.
Sometimes you can provide education about innovation and entrepreneurship, acting more like a tutor than a coach. Innnovation and entrepreneurship information is alway evolving , and if ,for example, you can provide updates or suggest books, blogs or commentaries, it can add value to your clients continuous learning.
So, what should be included in the job description when you are recruiting a CMO for your startup or technology company?
There are three basic parts to an advisory or consulting agreement:
TERMS and CONDITIONS
For example, The Founder / Advisor Standard Template (“FAST”) was developed by the Founder Institute to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the startup launch programs that we operate worldwide set-up advisory boards and engage with the mentors that they interact with throughout the program. In 2011, the Founder Institute released the FAST Agreement to the public, and we have been making incremental updates on the Version 1 of the Agreement ever since. On August 1st, 2017, the Founder Institute has released a preview copy of Version 2, which includes a number of enhancements:
- The FAST Agreement can now be localized into any legal jurisdiction where corporate law supports the granting of options or restricted stock without having to hire a lawyer.
- The Advisor commitment levels have been simplified and standardized.
- The signing of the Agreement has been simplified.
- The enforceability of the Agreement has been improved.
Using the FAST Agreement, you can check a few boxes, sign the Agreement and start working. There is no longer the need for cumbersome negotiation, legal drafting and review.
SCOPE OF WORK
This is the place that describes what you are being hired to do. There is no one standard and the jobs to be done will vary from company to company and will vary depending on many factors including the stage of the company and industry category. The jobs are basically those that are outside of the company i.e. working with external stakeholders , and those that are inside of the company, like product development, contributing to the go to market strategy and execution, strategic planning, and other systems.
To direct the development of clinical strategies required to execute go to market strategy
Manage clinical aspects of regulatory strategies
Recommend usability and clinical trials partners
Oversee the analysis and interpretation of clinical trial data and the reporting of clinical trial results
Lead interactions with academic thought leaders, investigators, cooperative groups, and other clinical stakeholders
Provide clinical support and work with other members of the management team to develop and communicate the overall corporate strategy
Represent the Company and its programs to external audiences, including the investment, medical and regulatory communities, as well as pharmaceutical industry collaborators/partners
Lead and supervise the Clinical Research Department, have direct line responsibility for the Clinical Operations, Patient Advocacy, Ethics and Medical Affairs.
Provide subject matter advice on issue of healthcare: policy, technology, regulations, market dynamics.
Provide possible references to other subject matter experts, as well as input for marketing materials.
Coach the team on matters related to healthcare services and end-user requirements
Work on defining and shaping the go-to-market strategy and specific market activities
When possible and appropriate, act as the company spokesperson and expert, related to subjects of healthcare
Provide active assistance in expanding the company’s relevant contacts, leading to market success
Introductions to potential investors
Contributing to marketing collateral such as websites, newsletters, blogs and articles
Building buzz, brand and behavior on social media
This section describes the terms and conditions of how you will be compensated be it equity, cash or both and when.
Both those looking for CMOs and those wanting to be CMOs should have a clear understanding of job expectations and describe them in the job description of the advisory agreement. Walk before you run. Have a few dates before you decide to introduce each other to the parents. Spend some time with the rest of the team, possibly on a client scoping call, to see if there is a good fit. Try before you buy. There is no CMO school …yet, so you will be learning on the job.
After all, this relationship will evolve and won’t last forever.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@SoPEOffial